Torrenting Game Of Thrones Does Not Make Me ‘Entitled’

Torrenting Game Of Thrones Does Not Make Me ‘Entitled’

I should have seen it coming. I mean, to a certain extent I did see it coming. I’m talking, of course, about the ‘entitlement’ argument. Because, in case you haven’t had it hammered into you via years of millennial ‘think’ pieces about everything from house prices to education, everyone born between 1980 and five minutes ago is “entitled”.

A quick rewind: last week we published this story. ‘I Refuse To Feel Guilty For Torrenting Game Of Thrones’. It struck a chord.

Context: as a result of licensing agreements, the only way Australian consumers are able to legally watch Game of Thrones at the same time as the rest of the world is via Foxtel. Literally the cheapest way to do this is by subscribing to Foxtel Play for $30 a month. This is considered a ‘deal’ by Foxtel; a one-time only offer.

Foxtel Play, in my experience, was a sub-standard, sub-HD experience. I once watched a movie using Foxtel Play and gave up halfway through because the app had crashed five times. This, combined with the incredible difficulty I had actually paying for the service in the first place, had left me pretty bummed on the idea of paying Foxtel a meaty monthly fee to watch the one show they were holding hostage. The end result: I refuse to feel guilty for torrenting Game of Thrones.

The vast majority of feedback to the article was positive, but there was some resistance — probably best (and most fairly) exemplified by this Alex Kidman piece (not to be confused with Lifehacker’s ex-editor. This is his brother.) Probably worst exemplified by random strangers on the internet tweeting me with the “you wouldn’t steal a car” gambit.

But everyone, and I mean everyone, who disagreed with me used some form of the word ‘entitled’.

Entitlement: it’s such a loaded term. In the past five years it’s been used by old men telling young people they can’t buy houses, get an education without putting themselves into crippling debt or find a job after getting the degree they couldn’t afford.

This time they’re using it to defend draconian licensing systems that don’t make sense in the year 2016.

But there are a few key differences here.

Prime among them: unlike housing, education and jobs young people already have liquid access to Game of Thrones. This is just a reality of living in the present tense. We’re not ‘entitled’ to Game of Thrones, we already have it. If we want we can download it. Easily. For free. That is a reality. “You wouldn’t steal a car”. No probably not, but last time I checked it wasn’t possible to download a car, consequence free, on the internet. Last time I checked downloading a copy of a digital product didn’t involve stealing something directly from another human being.

The content is literally at our fingertips.

The genie is out of the bottle and, no matter how hard Foxtel tries, we can’t squash it back in and pretend it’s 1995.

It’s 2016. Netflix exists. We already have free and easy access to near limitless amounts of television, music, any type of media we decide to watch. This is the reality Foxtel is fighting against, we’re not difficult children sitting on the naughty step screaming for the toy we can’t have – we already have the toys. We have all of the toys.

And here’s the incredible part: we want to pay. We don’t have to pay. We could keep quiet, continue torrenting Game of Thrones without consequence, but we want to pay.

The only thing we feel ‘entitled’ to is the ability to pay a fair, reasonable price for a service that works, without being tied to this broader service that, firstly, we don’t want and, secondly, doesn’t actually work that well — if at all. At its best Foxtel Play is not comparable to the pirated product. If we’re going to pay exorbitant, unrealistic amounts of money for a product it should, at the very least, be the best possible version of that product. Surely.

We want to pay. We already pay. We subscribe to services, we buy merchandise, we attend conventions, we buy the Blu-rays, we buy the movie tickets. It’s been proven, time and time again, that people who torrent spend more on media than those who do not. We are not entitled. We’re the reason this content exists to begin with.

Draconian licensing agreements like the one currently in place for Game of Thrones affect everyone. They are simply not helpful.

They don’t support the creators. They actively deny us the ability to pay creators directly for the products they create.

And they don’t help consumers, who are being asked to pay unfair amounts for sub-standard quality content on a service we’re being forced to endure.

This is not about entitlement. This is about being given the ability to pay a fair price for content in a timely fashion. We are being denied that.


  • Good article. I agree and find it hard to believe that HBO allows for this draconian model to exist these days.
    I also liken your description of entitled to the way many people these days use the word bigot to describe anyone who doesn’t agree with them. Perhaps people can be entitled to their own opinion after all..

    • Theres a thread on Kotaku thats up to 200 plus comments, so hopefully this one go down that same path…

      But as this is still pretty short, my complaint is, and always has been, that the industry is providing at least some of the fuel for the situation, and refuses to accept their part in the problem.

      Its created a generation thats comfortable with torrenting, and made the situation worse.

  • Which ever way you decide to justify it, you are still deluding yourself. You using the word “draconian” is no justification. The licensed owners of this show or others like it have made a business decision to on sell the product how they see fit. Because you are not satisfied with the way the business chooses to distribute it, you now feel that you are entitled to just take it in an illegal form.

    You say you are prepared to pay. So have you sent the distributor a cheque or direct bank transfer for what you believe is fair compensation? No? .

    I have no doubt the laws are outdated an of an era before globalisation and data transfer were the norm. I don’t give a damn if you want to steal the content but be an adult and admit you are illegally downloading the content because the business model does not suit you or your lifestyle. You could pay for it, but it doesn’t suit you. You are happier to circumvent the rules. That makes you a thief.

    Give up on the fake justifications. There are people who work for these multinationals. There are share holders – mums and dads who invest and just try to make a buck for their retirement. What do you say to these people?

    Sure, there is a large corporation behind this and a lot of sophisticated investors making a lot of coin via these restricted distribution streams. My question to you is would you be prepared to give up your income stream if you were the one generating the income?

    It is very easy to be a lefty, self righteous tree hugger. But capitalism is the best model we have. Without capitalism the funding to actually make the game of thrones show wouldn’t even be there.

    I once felt like you. The thing is, you can’t be taught experience. That was before I played in the corporate waters. I choose to swim on the sidelines now and have found a happy medium. Because as much as I dislike the “draconian” methods you speak of, I realise that change will not happen immediately and that life is not fair.

    Continue to download till your heart’s content, but stop sullying Lifehacker by using your privilege to try and justify your theft. It making you seem like a petulant child.

    • You say you are prepared to pay. So have you sent the distributor a cheque or direct bank transfer for what you believe is fair compensation? No? .

      That’s the point. He’s trying to. And the ‘fair compensation’ would be the market rate for similar products like netflix or similar pricing for GoT in other countries

      There are share holders – mums and dads who invest and just try to make a buck for their retirement. What do you say to these people?

      “Hi mums & dads, companies like Netflix & Hulu have successful profitable business models that allow lower priced content to users all around the world. If you apply pressure during shareholder meetings to Foxtel and ask them to change, your share price is going to go up once more subscribers come in from the shadows and start paying for their media”

      • No, that is not the point. He didn’t like the format or container that the licenced owners of the content chose to distribute… But difference.

        Oh, I don’t like that Penfolds wine only sell in 750mL bottles… I want it in two litre bottles… So because Penfolds don’t do what I want and make a two litre container, do I now have the justification to simply take the wine off the shelf without paying for it?

        Pull your head in…. It is no justification at all. The author is a thief, plain and simple.

        That the laws need to change… And they do, is a separate discussion. The people who paid a bucket of money to get the licensing laws will now ream the people who do the right thing and pay for the access….

        Your second point made more sense, yes, things take time to change, but the theft of the content before the changes take place is still blatant theft…

        • First of all, that is the worst argument ever. In one situation you are actually a thief, depriving a business for a physical product that they can no longer sell to another customer. That is a criminal matter.
          When you infringe copyright you are not stealing anything. You are making a copy. No one is deprived of a product. The business can still sell the product. It is a civil offence.

          Also, a huge proportion of people that torrent buy the Blu Rays, so they are paying what they feel is a fair price. Not immediately, but they do.

        • Pull your head in…. It is no justification at all. The author is a thief, plain and simple.

          Nope. Try again.

          Regardless of what you think (ie, ‘wah wah its the law u wouldnt steal a syrah!’), torrenting is a substitute product for paying Fox to watch GoT.

          So, in the real world (without blubbering about ‘mums and dads inbestors’, because stupid emotive arguments based on tired stereotypes also don’t factor into his decision), he can

          a) Pay $30, watch it in potato quality with constant dropouts and hassles (as discussed)
          b) Pay $50, be tied to a twelve month contract but have acceptable quality
          c) Pay $0, have 1080P with zero issues, but MUM AND DAD INVESTORS plus have a miniscule chance of being pursued for copyright infringement.

          How do you move him away from (c) towards the other two? Lower the price, increase the quality, sort out the hassles and bugs, or increase the chance of forking over damages.

          (naturally, both Fox/VRL and Lawn Order whingers jump up and down and point to the last one of those, despite ample evidence that it’s the most expensive and by far the least effective)

          Which was his entire point, which you missed in your silly little tantrum.

          • You make the assumption that the author of this piece is entitled to see the product…. That’s gold.

            If you don’t like the way the licenced owners decide they will deliver their product, you will just take it…. Denying the income stream to the rightful owners may not be theft in your eyes, but it is denying them of an income stream be devious means. I call that theft.

            Sounds pretty entitled to me. Justify it all you want. You can’t have it the way you want it so you just take it…

            And I’d like to know how you come to the conclusion most people buy blu ray after a torrent swipe… Have any data to back that up?

          • At the end of the day people like me who aren’t ‘entitled’ in any way are just going to keep torrenting it.. because we want to and we can, regardless of the rights and wrongs.

            However they could have my money – if they changed their models just as has been repeated endlessly in comments and articles like this one.

            So it’s their choice, the bottom line is people like me will just keep torrenting it until they decide they would prefer to have us pay for it.

            That may be wrong but thats real life for you.

          • At the end of the day people like me who aren’t ‘entitled’ in any way are just going to keep torrenting it.. because we want to and we can, regardless of the rights and wrongs.

            at least you aren’t trying to hide the fact and make excuses for your pilfering 😉 I couldn’t give a damn if people torrent, but when they weaselly try to defend it and argue it like it is their right, that is just sickening.

            However they could have my money – if they changed their models just as has been repeated endlessly in comments and articles like this one.

            Yes, and that is the license holder’s problem and they must either act or deal with it. They will have done their due diligence and probably decided it is in their best interest to keep the status quo. There are still a massive number of people who buy foxtel subscriptions and the profit is good.

            The whiny torrenters think for some obscure reason they are the majority and the evil corporation will bow to them. That is probably the most laughable part of this…

      • The ‘market rate’ has to be based on what Foxtel paid in order to secure their exclusive rights!
        They paid for a show in high demand, it seems reasonable (If not ‘fair’), for them to price the product in line with the costs.

        I never hear anyone complaining that Ferrari should be charging less for their cars, because a Hyundai costs much less?

        The author has lots of toys, but is still holding his breath & stamping his feet, because ‘he wants THAT one!’

        If you love the Netflix/Stan business model so much (which I do), just watch the Many shows that are available there, & stop complaining that you can’t have the same toy that people willing to pay for it are getting

        • If you want to go with the car analogy, people are complaining that we only have the option to buy a Hyundai but it costs more than a Ferrari.
          The ‘market rate’ is whatever consumers are willing to pay for the product. If Foxtel have paid too much to secure the exclusive rights, that’s just plain bad management.

        • The ‘market rate’ has to be based on what Foxtel paid in order to secure their exclusive rights!

          No, the ‘market rate’ is what the market is prepared to pay. Foxtel can pay sixty trillion dollars if they want, it doesn’t affect my decision whether or not to purchase their product.

          In reality, the only way a business can charge supra-market prices is under a complete monopoly, on a product with no close substitutes. And, given this entire article is about different choices he was deciding amongst, that’s clearly not the case here.

          • it doesn’t affect my decision whether or not to purchase their product.
            But it Does- as the purchase price is always going to directly impact the on-sale price.
            This applies to any business.
            And the fact is that Foxtel paid a lot, & therefore ask that the users’ costs reflect that, and therefore you feel that they are being unreasonable & unfairly price-gouging.

            In reality, Foxtel paid for a Legal monopoly, on a highly desirable product. So why shouldn’t they charge “supra-market prices”? Especially when they’d be having to make up for the fact that the number of GoT fans obviously does not reflect the number of subscribers who are paying for the product?

          • But it Does- as the purchase price is always going to directly impact the on-sale price.

            It can ‘affect’ it as much as it wants, but the fact remains that unless you operate a monopoly on a product with a vertical demand curve, it’s the market that sets the price, not you.

            In reality, that’s almost never the case (unless you are pharmabro). So you have a tradeoff between selling a lot of something cheaply, or selling a little of something for a high price.

            That’s why Foxtel charges $50 a month and not $500 – because that’s the price point where the price/quantity tradeoff maximises their revenue.

            In reality, Foxtel paid for a Legal monopoly, on a highly desirable product. So why shouldn’t they charge “supra-market prices”?

            Because, as I said above and as the entire point of the article explained, whether it’s a ‘legal monopoly’ is irrelevant, because substitute products are available. Throwing your hands in the air and shouting ‘thats breaching the Copyright Act!’ doesn’t magically stop the author from torrenting.

            Foxtel can charge whatever they want. No one said they can’t. But they don’t operate in a vacuum, and if consumers aren’t prepared to pay that price, they will move to the substitute (or, if no substitutes are available, just spend their money on something else).

  • Being consequence free still doesn’t make something right.

    Regardless of entitlement, you have a choice; you’re choosing to steal.

    • …both articles drive home something I agree with in terms of the draconian model which, while changing, is doing so far too slowly. But to write them in a way that highlights how you think it’s ok to steal, guilt free no less; poor form.

    • Agree wholeheartedly.

      If you don’t like the way they’re delivering it, just watch something else. There is no justification for then stealing it.

    • It is not stealing. It is copyright infringement. I see you have seen too many “you wouldn’t steal a car” ads.

  • You can download it for free, so why would you pay foxtel?

    That seems to be what you are saying.

    You will dictate the price and service or else not pay.

    Yeah that’s not being entitled *rolls eyes.*

    You do realise that Game of Thrones was the highest rated scripted show on TV last week in Australia. If so many people can legally access the show and do, it kind of runs against your whole central premise.

    You don’t think we all notice you aren’t mentioning a full foxtel installation. That this is a deliberate choice by you. Being entitled to the show because you can get it for free, you have gone straight to the cheapest option and then complain this cheap access to the foxtel service isn’t good enough and then justify that as an excuse.

    Please list every other show you pirate and lets see how many of them are on Foxtel. How much do you pay for a nice expensive fast broadband service with lots of downloads to accommodate that.

    Face it dude, you’re clinging onto torrenting and living in the old world, because those that distribute content have been listening and adapting. We now get almost everything fast tracked to Australia. There’s literally no need to torrent any more unless you don’t want to pay. So this whole, “we want to pay” is rubbish because you can. It’s the friggin’ highest watched scripted show on TV in the country from legal means alone.

  • I agree with your overall point, but when you ay things like “We are not entitled. We’re the reason this content exists to begin with” you’re sounding pretty up yourself and entitled.
    Like I said, I do understand where you’re coming from, and I agree with the point you’re making, but your wording is not going to help your cause in silencing your critics.

  • At the end of the day, when you take something for free, someone loses and if it’s not you then it’s someone else. If you can pinpoint the person losing and can live with taking a few cents from their pocket, then play on. But consider a theoretical person who runs an ad blocker on this very site. They might justify that to themselves by saying, ‘Oh I’m willing to pay for an ad free feed, but they don’t let me pay. I’m willing to pay! So I just block the ads.’. Is that really justified? And is it really different?

      • I run an ad blocker… Because I don’t want ads… Wrong? Yes. But I don’t try to justify it to everyone who will listen.

        This irony is I think that i may have originally found out about my ad blocker from this site’s parent.

    • I block ads because they are often intrusive and have become common vectors for malware. Additionally, it cost me money if I have to download ads using my mobile data. In the mobile scenario I often get unusable sites because they are littered with pop ups asking me to register and a layout that is broken, plus I am paying for the privilege!

      Putting all that aside, no one has to enter into any contract which states they have disable their ad blocker before they can use a site. I can install any browser with an extensions I want and tailor my browsing experience however I want. I know that advertising often helps running costs – it’s one reason why there are a handful of sites I do whitelist – but I am under no legal obligation to allow those ads to run nor am I breaking any laws by not allowing them to run. Piracy, whether you like it or not, is against the law, ad blocking is not.

      I don’t think your comparison is a particularly good one.

  • You sound like my adult kids who get ticked off when I use a schedule to turn the internet off after 12am and their torrents, xbox online sessions etc grind to a halt. It’s their ‘right to free internet’ they scream while not paying board or even helping by doing a chore. Do you also fare avade because public transport is not as good as your dad’s Audi?

    • You should ask them to pay their share of the bills if they are adults.

      I moved out at 17 so I don’t have personal experience with this, but I do have friends who still live at home (in their late 20s) and they contribute to bills, groceries, etc at home. It’s only fair.

  • Holy hell, maybe give it a rest already and publish some actual content.

    We get it.
    You don’t like the distribution model.
    You think it’s ok to pirate the content instead.

    We got all that the first time you published one of these pieces.

    Can we stop rehashing it and have some of the interesting content we actually come here for?

    (Oh, and I agree with the large number of comments above; you would have to put in some serious work to come across as any more “entitled” than this piece.)

  • This sums up a counterpoint nicely and shines the light on this article’s non-sensical legitimising of infringing copyright (IP theft).

    P.S. As Mr. Serrels is a games reviewer, I wonder if he would suggest we download brand new video games when they launch as their $100+ launch price is too dear. Steal the game today, then buy it on the cheap 6 months later when it comes to Steam or buy a pre-owned disk from EB Games when it’s cheaper. Mark, I’d really like to know… because, games are similarly “intangible, infinitely reproducable” digital copies… not like car theft. Or.. do those companies deserve to make a buck from their efforts?

  • Not literally the cheapest. Why do you keep publishing such misinformation?

  • Whether people are ‘entitled’ or not is beside the point. The quality of this service is abysmal, no one is going to be enticed to your service – something I am assuming as a business you would want – if the service is expensive and sub-par.

  • I’m sorry, you can sugar-coat it as much as you like and call those who call you out for it whatever you want, but you’re still stealing. If my price is too high, don’t buy my house. Don’t tell me you don’t have choices, you have a choice not to watch the show! Or wait till it comes out on Google Play or iTunes.

      • It’s not stealing but it is depriving them of their right to exploit work that they own for money.

        They are the rights holder, not someone who can torrent. So they get to decide who has access to it, who can make copies and so forth.

    • Don’t tell me you don’t have choices, you have a choice not to watch the show! Or wait till it comes out on Google Play or iTunes.

      …or he can torrent it.

      All of which were discussed in the article, champ.

      • Yes, you’re right, he has the choice to steal it as a torrent. I was talking about legal, morally correct choices, champ.

  • The fact that the original story you wrote and published, Lets get that out of the way first. You were the one who published it. There is no we. You pushed the publish button. Anyway, your original argument was that you have and will continue to pirate game of thrones based on a bad experience you had with Foxtel Play just screams how entitled you are to watch it without waiting. I agree that Foxtel play is a terrible service. But using that as a justification to pirate a show is a weak argument. Now all you seem to be doing is trying to hide the fact that you feel entitled to pirating.

    Why can’t you wait for it on iTunes or Blu-Ray? What harm will it do to you to just wait it out? Do you go over to Game of Throne’s parties to talk about the episodes in depth? What exactly are you missing out on with waiting? You can try and lie to yourself and the readers as much as you like, but at the end of the day you still pirated the show which you felt entitled to because you had some issues with Foxtel Play.

  • I agree with you Mark, I pay for Foxtel Play and have done so for the past 2 years during GOT season. The quality of the GOT broadcast I see is 480p (at best) and heavily compressed and delivered over a poor CDN so constantly buffers. It is far inferior to the quality my brother in-law sees when he just downloads it. I do feel “entitled” to see at least a full HD version of the show distributed through a decent CDN rather than the rubbish Foxtel serves up. I will be paying $90 for this show (and I am happy to pay for it), I get other content sure, and some of it is good, if it was at a decent resolution on a good CDN i might even keep Foxtel play. That $90 is the same as about 8 months of Netflix which is 1080p and crystal clear. We are right to speak up about this as this is the only way Foxtel are likely to change. There is no point in making excuses for them, we WANT to pay, we WILL pay, but give us a good product.

  • Interesting… Will you also be downloading Tidal “exclusive” albums like Beyonce’s new release because you don’t like their release model and aren’t prepared to wait?

    Realistically there’s no justification here Mark, you know it’s wrong, but you’re doing it anyway (and I’m not going to be a hypocrite, I do it too with newer movie releases before later watching them again inevitably on Netflix).

    So yes, we are being “entitled”…

  • For those who consider this theft, is it still theft in your opinion if I pay for Foxtel play but download a HD torrent? What if I pay for normal foxtel and download? What if I pay for a HBO Go account via a friend in the US?
    I cut off my foxtel about a year ago and havent watched game of thrones since. Wasn’t worth the cost. If I could pay per episode or a subscription I probably would. But I cant so I watch netflix. Theres tonnes of quality programming.

    • Yes, it is still theft, as you have not paid for That product. You have paid for the ability to stream the shows offered, in the provided definition, to supported devices, for use with an active internet connection.
      It may suck, & people may not like it, but this is what Foxtel paid through the nose for- the right to do this exclusively

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